RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories (AFP): Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Monday blasted as “inflammatory” remarks made by far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich that Palestinians do not exist.
“There are no Palestinians, because there are no Palestinian people,” Smotrich said Sunday, quoting French-Israeli Zionist activist Jacques Kupfer, speaking at an event in Paris according to a video circulating on social media.
“After 2,000 years of exile, the prophecies of Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Isaiah are beginning to come true and God is gathering his people, the people of Israel are returning home,” Smotrich said.
“There are Arabs around who don’t like it, so what do they do? They invent a fictitious people and claim fictitious rights to the land of Israel, only to fight the Zionist movement,” he added.
Smotrich last year became a minister in the cabinet of Israel’s veteran leader Benjamin Netanyahu, which analysts have called the most right-wing government in the country’s history.
“It is the historical truth, it is the biblical truth… the Arabs in Israel must hear it, as well as certain Jews who are confused in Israel, this truth must be heard here at the Elysee Palace (in Paris), and at the White House in Washington, and everyone must hear this truth,” Smotrich continued.
Shtayyeh, speaking before a cabinet meeting of the Palestinian Authority on Monday, said the “inflammatory statements are consistent with the first Zionist sayings of ‘a land without a people for a people without a land’.”
He said the comments were “conclusive evidence of the extremist, racist Zionist ideology… of the current Israeli government.”
Smotrich and his Religious Zionism group have a history of making incendiary remarks about Palestinians.
In February, Smotrich called for the Palestinian town of Hawara in the occupied West Bank to be “wiped out” after two Israelis were shot dead by an alleged Hamas militant.
Hundreds of rampaging Israeli settlers later torched Palestinian homes and cars in the West Bank town.